I’m back from the Forrester Marketing Forum in San Francisco, CA. It was a great couple of days of networking and education. In my previous blog, I told the story of Sir Roger Bannister becoming the first human to run a sub-4 minute mile. I told this story not just because I am an avid runner, but because I saw synergy between Sir Roger’s accomplishment and what I heard from industry veterans on what CMOs will need to do differently in the next digital decade.
Before I explain what I heard at the Forum, let me take you back to Sir Roger Bannister’s story. When Sir Roger finally broke through the 4 minute mile barrier in 1954, it was after numerous failed attempts. He ran 4:02 a few times and even a 4:01 mile; but never below 4:00. Scientists and sports writers had proclaimed that it would never be done-by Sir Roger or any other runner. Yet after Sir Roger eclipsed the mark, it was done 16 additional times in the next 4 years.
As far as we know, there were no steroids or other drugs that could enhance one’s performance back in the 50s. And if you ever saw the tracks that runners performed on or the shoes they wore, you know it wasn’t new age technology that helped Sir Roger get over the top! There’s no doubt that there was a physical element to Sir Roger’s achievement. Years of training and experience significantly helped. But there was an almost equal mental element to this accomplishment. Once Sir Roger showed the world it could be done, it put the other runners’ in a better mental position to do the same.
CMOs face a similar mental challenge in the next digital decade. Marketers need to break through barriers to help their organizations navigate and succeed. At the Marketing Forum, I heard this numerous times. Forrester’s CEO George Colony implored us to go out and have a “beer talk” with our CEOs. George said that we should explain in plain talk what our companies need to do to be successful. How many marketers do this today? The CMO of Dr. Pepper Snapple Group said we need to “challenge up” our innovative marketing ideas to the board level, because all that CEOs think about are 2 things-revenue and profitability. CMOs need to put their marketing strategy in these terms and develop a revenue mindset so it resonates with CEOs. Thomas Seclow, who leads the Marketing Officer practice at Stuart and Spencer, said that when CEOs contact him about a CMO search, they inevitably say they want someone on their team who will be curious, persuasive and take chances. Finally, Kraft’s SVP of Marketing Strategy Dana Anderson suggests that we need to “market our marketing more effectively.”
All this feedback from executives at the Marketing Forum reminds me of Sir Roger Bannister embracing the challenge of breaking through the first sub-4 minute mile barrier almost 60 years ago. Successful marketers will also embrace the challenges of the next digital decade, and move beyond a lead generation mindset to add the value that CEOs are looking for.
Good luck to all marketers in the quest to run their sub-4 minute mile.